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Weekly Overview: Mexico Counts the Cost of Bird Flu

13 September 2012, at 11:50pm

ANALYSIS - With no new outbreaks of H7N3 bird flu reported in Mexico for the last three weeks, the poultry industry there must be holding its breath and hoping that the crisis is over. In the last week, it has been reported that the cost of the outbreaks, which mainly affected the egg industry, has been estimated at the equivalent of around US$860 million, the lives of more than 22 million poultry that either died or had to be culled and upwards of 7,500 jobs.

H7N3 highly pathogenic avian influenza broke out in Mexico's top egg-producing state, Jalisco, in late June. Since that first outbreak, ThePoultrySite has been following developments, which have included major disruptions to the egg market in this country that is among the leading egg-consuming countries of the world. Egg prices to consumers rose on fears of tight supplies and the country was forced to import significant quantities of eggs for the first time, mainly from the US and under a quota system.

Concerted efforts to try to contain the outbreaks now appear to have paid off and the ministry of agriculture says it is pleased to report that no further bird flu outbreaks have been reported over the last 20 days. The statement adds that more than 22.3 million birds have been culled.

The country's poultry association, UNA, says its latest analysis reveals the bird flu outbreaks cost more than 8,615 million pesos - around US$860 million. As well as the millions of birds slaughtered, 7,688 jobs have been lost.

UNA President, Crivelli Jaime Espinoza, says that the cost to the industry came from decreased egg production, a fall in income and subsequently a loss in jobs.

He added that the industry must now work together with the government and other authorities to compensate as soon as possible those who have suffered.

The Mexican poultry industry is working hard to keep egg production up to guarantee supply, he added, and it is beginning to repopulate flocks.

As well as compulsory slaughter of affected flocks, the country also carried out two rounds of vaccination against the disease, the most recent of which started in the third week of August.

Turning to other news, continued deterioration of cereal crop prospects over the past two months, due to unfavourable weather conditions in a number of major grain-producing countries, has led to a sharp cut in FAO's world production forecast since its previous report in July.

The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report says that, compared to the previous month, global wheat supplies for 2012/13 are projected 3.1 million tons lower, mostly due to lower expected production in Russia. Global coarse grain supplies for 2012/13 are projected 4.0 million tons lower despite higher beginning stocks of corn in the US and barley in Canada. Reduced corn production prospects for EU-27, Serbia and Canada added to the decline in the US to reduce world corn output 8.0 million tons.